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Sonlight Church and Community Center
The new Sonlight Church and Community Center (AG) was dedicated on November 9, 2014.

Skepticism. Disbelief. Strong opposition. Those were the kind of attitudes that greeted Pastor Chris Boggs and his wife Glenda when they talked about their small church of 40 people building a new church in 2009.

When the economy fell in 2010 and the new church was just underway, the negativity — especially from the religious community — poured in.

And a few months later, when Pastor Boggs felt convicted that the church should be built debt-free . . . .

For the past 15 years, the Boggses have been ministering at Sonlight AG, in Weston, Ohio, a small town with a population of about 1,500. When they first took over the church, it was nearly dead.

"If it wasn't for our home church, Kettering Assembly of God in Dayton (Ohio) supporting us like missionaries for the first few years, we never would have made it," Pastor Boggs says, explaining he also drove a school bus to help make ends meet. The church building itself was far from ideal — small, 14 steps up to the entrance, no alcove area, and no place to grow.

But finally, after extensive preparation and planning, the church decided to build. The challenge was, they did not have much money, no property to build on, and at that time, even home loans were tough to come by.

Struggling to find property to build on, Boggs and the church board requested the help of a former board member. They anointed him with oil, prayed over him, and sent him out to find the property God wanted the church to be built on.

Boggs says God gave them favor with a landowner who had refused all others in their attempts to purchase a prime 5-acre piece of property that sat on the highway intersection. Not only we're they able to purchase the land, but the man they had anointed felt led to buy the property for the church and give the church a substantial gift to begin its building program.

The church itself was also raising funds for the building program and on September 19, 2010, broke ground on the building.

"Our plan was to get a shell up and then as money came in, we would work on it," Boggs says. "Then, whatever was left to do, we would get a loan to finish it up."

Although donations were still coming in from unexpected sources as well as through pledges, it was barely enough to keep the building moving forward. "It doesn't take long to burn through money when building," Boggs admits.

But then the game changed. After attending a Financial Peace University event in January of 2011, Boggs was convicted that the church should be built without debt, meaning no loans. From that point on, the Boggses became cheerleaders, emphasizing the progress, while facing skepticism in the community.

Sonlight Church dedication ceremony
Pastor Chris Boggs (with plaque) and his wife, Glenda, at the dedication celebration.

For the next three years, the church would slowly progress, with God providing key gifts of money and encouragement along the way -- including other AG churches helping out and a friend handing the keys of a Jaguar automobile to the Boggses.

"I drove the car of my dreams for three months," Boggs says, "but then I felt the Holy Spirit convicting me. So, I sold the car, paid off some debts and gave the rest to the church building fund." The donation helped the church raise $25,000 in one offering.

But as progress slowed and frustrations mounted, the Holy Spirit gave Boggs a simple solution. "In a small town, rumors get started and people were saying that the church had gone bankrupt, which wasn't true," he says, "so I painted on our sign, 'Please be patient; we're building debt free.'"

That sign started changing some attitudes. People in the community liked the idea of a church building debt free and more people began to support the effort.

Finally, after nearly four years of fund-raising, encouraging and Boggs' overcoming his own personal frustrations with the never-ending help of his wife, the new church, Sonlight Church and Community Center, was dedicated on November 9 with a healthy, growing congregation of 80.

Boggs says the church has been transformed through the completion of the building.

"I believe our people had the poverty mentality, 'we can't, we're poor' — that is totally gone and has been replaced with 'We can do anything through Christ!'" Boggs says. "There's a difference in their attitude in who they are in Christ and what they can accomplish in Christ. This has really grown their faith!"

As far as where the credit lies for an estimated $1.5 million church being built debt free, Boggs is quick to respond. "There's no way this could have happened without the Lord smiling down and giving us favor. And because of this, I know He has big plans for this church."

The first phase of the new church is actually a gymnasium with classrooms and offices located above it. Boggs says it allows for seating of up to 300 and makes the church available for all kinds of church and community activities. In fact, the church is planning on starting an Upwards basketball league for kids in their community in January.

"I am looking forward to the day when we can put a sanctuary up in front of the gymnasium," Boggs admits, but then adds with a laugh, "but right now, I'm exhausted, so a little break might be good!"


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Upcoming national Japanese Conference offers "restoration"

Wed, 16 Jan 2013 - 4:04 PM CST

Ito Hiroshi
Hiroshi

Pastor Ito Hiroshi knows a little something about restoration. Two years ago, a massive tsunami struck Japan - Hiroshi was there and witnessed the unimaginable destruction first hand. He's also been there the last two years, helping to restore the country physically - through his work with Convoy of Hope - and rebuild a nation spiritually - through prayer and the gospel message.

The second annual Japanese Conference, coming to Springfield, Missouri, March 12-14, 2013, will have the theme of "restoration" and feature Pastor Hiroshi as a keynote speaker. In addition to sharing graphic images of the intense destruction the tsunami left behind in Japan, Hiroshi will also offer evidence of how God is working through the devastation to reveal Himself to a formerly resistant culture.

"Pastor Hiroshi will also speak on how God can restore our own personal life, no matter what the damage," says Yoriko Yabuki, who with her husband, Daisuke, are appointed Japanese Assemblies of God missionaries and are lead hosts of the conference. "His personal testimony of how God healed his difficult health condition as he helped those suffering around him is very inspirational."

Hosted at Central Assembly of God, where the Yabukis serve as international pastors, the conference will also serve as an opportunity for pastors to hear about what it would take to form a Japanese Fellowship akin to the existing 21 language/ethnic fellowships. Assemblies of God Ethnic Relations Director Scott Temple will host an informational meeting on the topic.

Other speakers for the conference include: Dr. James Bradford, AG general secretary; Byron Klaus, president of AG Theological Seminary; Dale Crall, pastor of Calvary Campus Church in Carbondale, Illinois; Jeff Peterson, pastor of the host church, Central Assembly of God; Steve Smith, missionary to the Japanese in Michigan; the Yabukis; and Sandi Bradford, wife of Dr. James Bradford, who will lead a women-only session.

"This event is targeted to the Japanese pastor who has U.S. credentials, the U.S. pastor who leads a Japanese ministry and those who have a God-given desire to reach Japanese and their Americans families for Christ," Daisuke Yabuki says.  "We also welcome non-Christian Japanese people and we will have breakout sessions just for them to help them understand the gospel

Although the conference is officially geographically known as the "Midwest" Japanese Conference, the conference is intended to be national in scope. Registration cost for adults prior to March 1 is $80 and includes three onsite meals. Children ages 6-12 are offered an activity program for $40. Nursery care is available for children 5 and under for $25. Lodging is available at the Central Bible College dormitories at a rate of $15 per person per night. The registration cost will increase to $100 beginning March 1.

For more information about the conference, including deadlines, lodging, schedules and registration forms, see the event website.

Authors: Dan Van Veen

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